follow us:

Latest News

Join the Thieves Guild in upcoming Elder Scrolls Online DLC
A new DLC pack for Elder Scrolls Online lets players join the iconic Thieves Guild. It's time to make the pockets across Tamriel a little lighter. ... [read more]
New trailer gives you a behind the scenes look at Unravel
With the release of Unravel, the indie 2D platformer with the adorable character made of yarn, in just a few weeks, EA unveiled a new trailer with more info about the gameplay. ... [read more]
Far Cry Primal story revealed in new trailer
A new video for FarCry Primal is available and shows what lies ahead for our hero, Takkar. Massive hunting grounds showcase the new wildlife and enemies that inhabit the ecosystem of Oros. It is up to you to defend your people from the enemy tribes and find your place in thi... [read more]

Latest Articles

Your safe space doesn't belong in my competitive game
Whether it’s trash talking or teabagging, some people are looking for a nicer online experience. Guess what? We’re not in elementary school anymore. This is digital dodgeball and players like me are aiming for your head. ... [read more]
Smite Preview: Hey look at me, I'm playing a MOBA on my console
There's no doubt that the top two MOBA games are DotA 2 and League of Legends, and with the control layout for those games, it's unlikely we'll see those games make the jump to the consoles. However, Smite, the third-person perspective MOBA game and arguably the third most p... [read more]
It doesn't matter how you get your Gjallarhorn
Destiny has seen its share of ups and downs. From the amazingly unbalanced Vex Mythoclast Fusion Rifle to its poor story, players have had plenty of reasons to trash the game. And now, the ultimate storm of garbage has landed. The Destiny community lost its mind when the Gja... [read more]

Latest Reviews

Undertale Review: An 8-bit RPG with a twist
Toby Fox first made himself known to the public with his ROM hack, “Press the B Button, Stupid!” for an Earthbound Halloween Pack back in 2008. With the help of artist Temmie Chang, he created a game that will take you back in time with its 8-bit look, music and turn-bas... [read more]
Batman: Arkham Knight Review: A fitting end for the Dark Knight
Rocksteady Studios did the unthinkable in 2009 by making a game based on a comic an actual GOTY contender. The follow-up, Arkham City, continued the pattern of quality and faithfulness to the comic making for another great game. To finish off the series, Rocksteady is back w... [read more]
Heroes of the Storm Review: The WoW of MOBAs is here
MOBAs are becoming more and more common as the competitive arena of choice. League of Legends and DotA changed the face of eSports by putting the new genre in the spotlight. Blizzard has entered the fray with their answer in the form of Heroes of the Storm.... [read more]

Latest Videos

Top 10 Hardest NES Games of All-Time
The NES was a console that had a huge library that had some of the most notoriously difficult games of all time. 8-Bit Eric counts down the Top 10 Hardest NES Games of All-Time. ... [read more]
8-Bit Eric Review: Yoshi's Woolly World
8-Bit Eric reviews the woolly adventure of Yoshi in Yoshi's Woolly World. ... [read more]
8-Bit Eric Review: Citizens of Earth Review (Wii U)
Remember Earthbound? Well, Citizens of Earth is like Earthbound, but not really. 8-Bit Eric explains why. ... [read more]
4 videogame marketing campaigns that were out of this world
Posted on March 13, 2012 by Jack

On February 16th, 2012, EA announced that it was to attach six copies of the upcoming Mass Effect 3 to weather balloons and launch them into the stratosphere. Various locations were chosen across Europe and North America, namely London, Berlin, New York, San Francisco and Las Vegas, with GPS trackers attached to each copy. The objective was that eager fans could track these GPS locators via the Mass  Effect website, and when each copy eventually returned to earth, a free-for-all would ensue that resulted in the first person that found each copy being able to take home a copy of the game a week early.

Whilst this was largely heralded as a unique way to market videogames, many people praised the imagination behind the idea, even if the execution was perhaps a little lacking (the San Francisco copy, for example, ended up in a tree and the contest had to be called off for health and safety reasons). Mass Effect 3’s marketing campaign can be seen as only the latest in a growing line of admirable videogame marketing campaigns, a line which, when followed, shows just how videogame publishers are upping their game when it comes to promoting their products. In this piece, I will explore several other recent marketing efforts, and attempt to show how launching games into space is merely the tip of the iceberg.

 

The original Bioshock was, and still is, one of the finest storytelling achievements of recent times in videogaming. Although the setting of Rapture was enthralling, most gamers felt that its story had largely been told through the course of Bioshock, and that any sequel would dampen the allure of the underwater city. Therefore, when announcing the sequel in 2009, the marketing team for Bioshock 2 had their work cut out for them in attempting to convince gamers that a sequel wasn’t just necessary, but that it was also something that they would want to play.

Thankfully for developer 2K Marin, the marketing team for Bioshock 2 knocked it out of the park. From maps and communiqués from in-game character Mark Meltzer (whose progress in searching for his daughter can be followed via in-game audio recordings), to bottles of wine ‘from’ Rapture washing up on beaches in Europe and North America, to recordings of music from Rapture, the marketing campaign for Bioshock 2 went a long way to convincing people that Rapture was a real place and Mark Meltzer’s plight was authentic. It’s just a shame that the marketing narrative was almost more engrossing than that of the game itself.

 

Halo 3 was one of the first games to see a genuinely ‘heavy’ marketing campaign. Sure, we’d seen commercials for videogames on TV before, but nothing had been seen that was executed quite as well as this. Halo 3 was announced with a bang at E3 2006, with a live-action trailer, and the momentum only went up from there. Neill Blomkamp, director of District 9 and appointed director of the ill-fated Halo movie was recruited to direct a series of live-action teasers as part of the ‘Landfall’ series.

It wasn’t until September 2007 that the marketing campaign for Halo 3 revealed its piece de resistance, as part of the ‘Believe’ campaign.  The entire ‘Believe’ campaign, estimated to have cost $10 million, consisted of a series of videos depicting the fictional ‘Museum of Humanity’, which contains a 1,200 square foot diorama which was designed to represent the passage of a single battle in Halo 3. Visiting the ‘Believe’ website allowed fans to scroll over the entire diorama, which consisted of handcrafted human and covenant figures represented at one-twelfth scale.

Perhaps the most profitable aspect of the Halo 3 marketing campaign, however, was the Halo 3 beta code that was included with copies of Crackdown.  Crackdown was by no means a bad game in its own right, but sales for the game skyrocketed when the Halo 3 beta opportunity was announced.

 

Dante’s Inferno was responsible for perhaps the longest continual videogame marketing campaign, with its ‘Nine Months of Hell’ effort. Beginning with staged protests held at E3 2009, the campaign only got worse (as in better) as the months progressed. A particular highlight was the month of ‘Wrath’, for which unmarked boxes sent to gaming journalists endlessly played Rick Astley’s ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ once opened, with the only way of stopping the music coming in the form of a mercifully provided hammer.

Understandably, and most likely intentionally, the ‘Nine Months of Hell’ campaign provoked a great deal of controversy, in particular with the ‘Heresy’ and ‘Treachery’ editions. ‘Heresy’ consisted of a trailer for a fake Nintendo Wii game entitled Mass: We Pray, which promised purchasers that instead of going to church, they could instead fulfil their religious obligations in the comfort of their own homes by playing this game. The ‘Treachery’ edition, on the other hand, included a commercial for a fictional website called Hawkpanther.com, which promised to teach you how to steal and seduce a friend’s girlfriend or wife.

Unfortunately, whilst the marketing campaign was one of the most imaginative for the videogame medium, the actual game of Dante’s Inferno received a large dose of criticism for being an almost carbon copy of the God of War series.

 

Whilst Kevin Butler isn’t a marketing campaign for a particular game, a piece on videogame marketing wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Sony’s PR juggernaut. Butler is played by actor Jerry Lambert, and is largely prominent in the ‘It Only Does Everything’ and ‘Long Live Play’ campaigns for the Playstation 3. Butler’s first appearance was as part of the ‘Dustin vs. Playstation’ advertisement for MLB ’09: The Show.

Kevin Butler is the self-pronounced Vice President of a number of Sony departments, such as Inspiration and Perspiration, Add More Awesome and Apologetic Apologies, and each of his adverts position Butler in some other-worldly situation smattered with a liberal dose of humour.

Although Butler doesn’t feature in the ‘To Michael’ advert, this commercial is perhaps one of the most awe-inspiring videogame commercials ever made, with cameo appearances from a host of famous Playstation-brand stalwarts, including Kratos, Nathan Drake and Solid Snake. The ‘To Michael’ commercial exists as part of the ‘Long Live Play’ campaign, and Butler is responsible for setting up the ‘Hall of Play’ app on Facebook which allows fans to place themselves in the ‘To Michael’ commercial.

 

 

Honourable Mentions

Some commercials or trailers aren’t released as part of a larger marketing scheme, yet still deserve a mention when assessing some of the strongest moments of videogame marketing. Off the top of my head, some of the better efforts of recent times include Gears of War’s “Mad World’ commercial, the “What’s Your Game?” series of World of Warcraft commercials featuring celebrities such as Ozzy Osbourne, Verne Troyer and Chuck Norris, the Modern Warfare 3 ‘The Vet & The n00b’ commercial, and the original Dead Island trailer, which, although it didn’t represent the final product to any real degree aside from the island setting, it succeeded in creating a lot of interest in an otherwise unknown game. 

 

 

Videogame marketing has come a long way since the wince-worthy nineties, where the majority of advertisements seemed to alienate non-gamers almost as much as they embarrassed those that bought the games. Thankfully, at around the same time that videogaming became (financially, at least) the biggest sector of the entertainment industry, it seems that its marketing has largely followed suit. Sure, there are some controversial flops, such as the PSP ‘Black and White’ campaign, or the PS3 ‘This is Living’ commercial, but it would seem that videogame marketers, for the majority, finally have their heads screwed on straight. With games being announced earlier and earlier in their development schedules in recent times, let’s hope that the marketing campaigns continue to keep us entertained during that long wait before release.

Jack - Staff Writer jack (@) original-gamer.com | all author's articles

What's your most anticipated game for February?

Project X Zone 2
Fire Emblem Fates
XCOM 2
Dying Light: The Following
Mighty No. 9
Unravel
Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2
Megadimension Neptunia VII
Firewatch
Far Cry Primal
View Results - View Comments

Podcast


Catching up with Koretzky


Long Live Play, Long Live Michael

Medal of Honor: Warfighter Review

Medal of Honor: Warfighter Review

Other Gaming News From The Web